Story: Lydia Flanagan
In our February issue, we reported on Sheffield Homes threatening long-standing resident Mrs Schofield with eviction because her small Jack Russell dog was deemed to be dangerous after a small incident.
Originally, she had moved to the maisonette because of an agreement she could take her dogs there when her previous home was included in a demolition scheme. Mrs Schofield said:
“The housing management caught wind of one out-of-character incident and just took it too far.”
After receiving the eviction notice in October, Mrs Schofield sought advice from the Sheffield Law Centre, which offers free advice to people who cannot afford expensive solicitors’ fees. An adviser there took hold of the case for Mrs Schofield, explained her legal rights and battled against the eviction notice on her behalf. Neighbours signed a petition and gave statements to say Mrs Schofield’s Jack Russell is not a nuisance and certainly not a dangerous dog! The Burngreave Messenger contacted Sheffield Homes to question them about their decision to evict. Their response was that the case was a “legal matter and it would be prejudicial to them to comment.”
Mrs Schofield kept in contact with her adviser, who kept a check on the status of the proceedings and sent emails enquiring about the decision. Finally, last month, Mrs Schofield received a letter from Sheffield Homes who apologised and agreed she can stay in her home – and with her dog! Mrs Schofield said:
“I am so relieved it’s all over and I can stay where I’ve lived for twenty years and keep my dog”.
The legal help Mrs Schofield received from Sheffield Law Centre is funded by legal aid and by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Both are under threat from the government, which aims to cut almost all preventive work through legal aid, putting the free legal advice service at risk. This is a big problem, cutting off a service to so many people who cannot pay expensive solicitor's fees. The Sheffield Law Centre believes everyone has a right to legal advice when they need it, so taking away this service is wrong. Mrs Schofield said:
“I wouldn’t like to think what would happen without this service”.
If you need advice contact Sheffield Law Centre on 273 1888.